New planning rules, currently being piloted, allow the environmental impacts of increased development to be offset by purchasing conservation credits from habitat banks. This ‘green economy’ measure is presented as reconciling economic growth with environmental protection. Mike Hannis and Sian Sullivan explain where this controversial idea has come from, before asking what effects it might have and who stands to gain from it. They argue that by encouraging us to think that one bit of nature is much like another, biodiversity offsetting undermines the unique place-based relationships between people and nature, moving us further away from ecological sustainability.
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